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Tearing Apart New York Top Cop Ray Kelly's Shameless Lies About the NYPD's Racist Policies

A paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal to NYPD Commissioner and would-be Homeland Security Chief Ray Kelly.

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It is true that many high-crime communities welcome more police officers patrolling their streets. It is also true that those police officers are generally outsiders, always inexperienced, and they are essentially tasked with inducting as many young men as possible into the criminal justice system. (And sometimes they  are simply power-drunk young assholes.)


From the beginning, we’ve combined this strategy with a proactive policy of engagement. We stop and question individuals about whom we have reasonable suspicion. This is a widely utilized and lawful police tactic, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1968 decision, Terry v. Ohio, and authorized by New York State Criminal Procedure Law and the New York state constitution. Every state in the country has a variant of this statute, as does federal law; it is fundamental to policing.

The “worksheet” officers must fill out after carrying out a stop-and-frisk contains boxes in which police officers can explain what led to the frisking — what the “reasonable suspicion” was, in other words.  The single most common reason for a stop in the year 2008was “furtive movements.” The third-most common was “other.” “Furtive movements” is cited in more than half of the forms  reviewed by criminologist Jeffrey Fagan, a plaintiff’s witness in the class-action suit against the NYPD. Fagan, who believes a stop based solely on “furtive movements” is an unconstitutional stop, has calculated that the NYPD has carried out more than 200,000 illegal stop-and-frisks.


It’s understandable that someone who has done nothing wrong will be angry if he is stopped. Last year, the NYPD announced a series of steps to strengthen the oversight and training involved in this tactic. The number of civilian complaints in 2012 was the lowest in the past five years. That’s progress—and we always strive to do better.

This is perhaps the single most blatantly dishonest statistic in the entire editorial.  Fun fact, from the New York Post: Last year, the number of civilian complaints about the NYPD was trending higher than the year before. Until Hurricane Sandy, which forced the Civilian Complaint Review Board to leave its office and get a new phone number, at which point complaints suddenly dropped.

Such factors meant that the CCRB took fewer complaints in November and December and all but guarantee that had Sandy not occurred, the complaint tally would have surely tipped upwards in 2012 for the first time since a slight increase was registered in 2009.

More CCRB facts: In 2009, the NYPD  released incorrect numbers relating to civilian complaints to the NYCLU. Generally, across the city, precincts with the highest number of complaints tend to have  the greatest number of stop-and-frisks.


In a similar vein, our detractors contend that the NYPD engages in widespread, unwarranted spying on Muslim New Yorkers. Again, this is a sensational charge belied by the facts.

Please see  all of these stories.


Since 1985, the police department has been subject to a set of rules known as the Handschu Guidelines, which were developed to protect people engaged in political protest. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, we were concerned that elements of the guidelines could interfere with our ability to investigate terrorism. In 2002, we proposed to the federal court that monitors the agreement that it be modified. The court agreed.

Guidelines related to protests don’t really have anything to do with surveillance of people not involved in protest, but simply living their lives, going to work and church and school. The NYPD’s surveillance of American Muslim communities was not limited to their political or activist activities: Muslims engaged in no “protesting” whatsoever were spied on. This is a total non sequitur.

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